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Stochastic Optimization and Worst-Case Analysis in Monetary Policy Design

  • Stan Žaković
  • Volker Wieland


  • Berc Rustem

In this paper we compare expected loss minimization to worst-case or minimax analysis in the design of simple Taylor-style rules for monetary policy using a small model estimated for the euro area by Orphanides and Wieland (2000). We find that rules optimized under a minimax objective in the presence of general parameter and shock uncertainty do not imply extreme policy activism. Such rules tend to obey the Brainard principle of cautionary policymaking in much the same way as rules derived by expected loss minimization. Rules derived by means of minimax analysis are effective insurance policies imiting maximum loss over ranges of parameter values to be set by the policy maker. In practice, we propose to set these ranges with an eye towards the cost of such insurance cover in terms of the implied increase in expected inflation variability.

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Article provided by Society for Computational Economics in its journal Computational Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 329-347

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Handle: RePEc:kap:compec:v:30:y:2007:i:4:p:329-347
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  1. Svensson, Lars E O, 1996. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," CEPR Discussion Papers 1511, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alexei Onatski & James H. Stock, 2000. "Robust Monetary Policy Under Model Uncertainty in a Small Model of the U.S. Economy," NBER Working Papers 7490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
  4. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini, 1999. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 873-907.
  5. Laurence M. Ball, 1999. "Policy Rules for Open Economies," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 127-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 6570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 2003. "The Performance of Forecast-Based Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 622-645, June.
  8. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Pitfalls of a Minimax Approach to Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 51-54, May.
  9. J. Tetlow, Robert & von zur Muehlen, Peter, 2001. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: Does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 911-949, June.
  10. Ann-Charlotte Eliasson & Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," IMF Working Papers 99/75, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  12. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Inflation zone targeting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1351-1387, June.
  13. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Karakitsos, E. & Rustem, B., 1984. "Optimally derived fixed rules and indicators," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 33-64, October.
  15. Giannoni, Marc P., 2002. "Does Model Uncertainty Justify Caution? Robust Optimal Monetary Policy In A Forward-Looking Model," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 111-144, February.
  16. Peter von zur Muehlen, 2001. "Activist vs. non-activist monetary policy: optimal rules under extreme uncertainty," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Rustem, Berc, 1994. "Stochastic and robust control of nonlinear economic systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 304-318, March.
  18. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 605-631, April.
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